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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review: House of Bones

DVD Review

House of Bones DVD 001This one was in the bargain bin and all I knew about it was that featured Charisma Carpenter and Corin Nemec and considering some the films I‘ve seen them in their names are no guarantee of quality. A film based on a ghost hunter TV show that finds out that the house they are investigating is really haunted is neither new or original and has in fact appeared as the plot is a few episodes of the TV show Supernatural. This film actually did remind me of the Ghostfacer episodes from that show.

The cable TV show Sinister Sites is doing poorly in the ratings so a production company executive puts pressure on the presenter of the show Quentin French (Corin Nemec) to go the next haunted house himself in an effort to give the show a ratings boost. French is arrogant but reluctantly agrees when faced with the sack for not agreeing. We don’t see much more of Quentin in this film until the end.

We see the real crew getting unpacked outside the gate of a large suburban house and though the grounds look a bit barren and neglected it does seem to be filmed in winter. They actually comment on the house looking in good condition because they think it would be spookier if it looked run down. The crew is cinematographer Simon (Collin Galyean), lead investigator Greg Fisher (Marcus Lyle Brown), producer Tom Rule (Ricky Wayne) and an assistant called Bub (Kyle Russell Clements). They also have a psychic Heather Burton (Charisma Carpenter)

Heather has a feeling of strong energies in the house but the crew have heard this stuff from psychics all the time and they have visited many so-called haunted house and none of them believe it’s real. They are here to film a show and they have lights and effects to do that. The real estate agent who is supposed to let them in is late but the gate is open. The house itself is locked but Greg picks the lock of the back door and they go inside. The house looks clean and well-maintained and there’s even fresh food in the fridge. At least it looks fresh but when Bub helps himself to an apple it turns rotten and maggoty before he can bite it. Bub is new to the crew and is both nosy and whiny until he’s told to just shut up, do what he’s told and stay out of the way.

The real estate agent Sara Minor (Stephanie Honore) shows up and she’s not happy that they are already inside. There’s talk of legal liability stuff but they were only supposed to film in the house for five hours in the daytime. This is a problem for Tom who wants to film at night. Greg manages to smooth things over with Sara and she reluctantly agrees to let them carry on.

Simon is setting up his equipment in a music room near the front door and he sends Bub to put fixed cameras on the walls of all the rooms. In one room the wall starts bleeding once he’s fixed the camera and when he takes it off he ends up punching a hole in the wall and losing the camera in it. He cut his hand and goes to clean it up while Greg retrieves the camera. The hole is dripping with slime and there’s a hint of body parts in the shapes in the hole. Greg thinks it’s ectoplasm and bags and shows it to Tom and Simon before bagging it.

The spirits in the house don’t waste any time letting them know that they are real and dangerous. Bub gets lead astray by female spirit that he follows into shower room only foe the spirit to vanish and replaced by a cockroach infestation as he tries to go back to the others end ends up being swallowed whole by the house.

First they have the various excuses for not leaving right away like finding Bub or getting the first ever genuine footage of a haunting but when things get so serious those excuses can’t keep them there the house locks them in. They have to uncover the black magic secrets of the house of bones if they want a chance of getting out alive.

This has the low-budget feel of a made for TV film mainly because it is. The effects a very cheap but are used sparingly so rarely get in the way of the story. It isn’t a very original story but it is entertaining enough. Charisma Carpenter doesn’t really get much to do apart from wander around seeing visions. Corin Nemec gets even less screen time and mostly acts as comedy relief when he does appear.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Castle Freak

DVD Review

Castle Freak DVD 001I really enjoy the films of horror director Stuart Gordon but I had never seen this film and I‘m not even sure if it ever got a release in UK before this digitally restored DVD release. It stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton who have both worked with Stuart Gordon on other films and was produced by Charles Band’s Full Moon studios. Although it has nudity and gore it doesn’t really have the dark humour of films like Re-Animator or From Beyond and the absence of any element of the fantastic makes it less memorable than those films.

A very old woman who looks like a homeless wino feeds some poor abused human creature she calls Giorgio (Jonathan Fuller) that she has locked up in the dungeon of her castle before viciously whipping it with a barbed cat-o-nine-tails. Then the real monster of this film returns to her bedroom and dies of a heart attack. This old woman was the Duchess D’Orsino (Helen Stirling) and we learn what sort of foul evil she has been up to through the film.

John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) has inherited the castle of Duchess D’Orsino and he takes his wife Susan (Barbara Crampton) and daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide) to see the place no that Rebecca will see much since she is blind. They get shown to castle by the lawyer Giannetti (Massimo Sarchielli) whose sister Agnese (Elisabeth Kaza) is the castle’s housekeeper. Agnese shows them to their rooms and that is first hint we have that Susan and John are not happily married when Susan asks Agnese to prepare another room for John. That night john tries to sweet talk his wife in to sleeping together but she just can’t

John has a very restless night with a nice convenient expository nightmare which gives us an insight into the reason that relations between Susan and John are frosty. John was driving with Rebecca in the passenger seat and his young son JJ in the back and while he was distracted by JJ nearly crashes into a truck but John swerves and instead hits a tree. Rebecca ended up blinded by shards of glass in her eyes and we don’t see what happen to JJ but it certainly killed him.

John wakes to sound of crying so he gets up and puts on some clothes then wanders around the castle trying to find the source of the crying, following the sound down into the cellar. He doesn’t find the source of the sound but he does find a very well stocked wine cellar. John is alcoholic but he has been dry for a while but he feels tempted by the wine but he smashes the bottle in disgust and cuts his hand. John goes to the kitchen to clean the cut. Agnese comes in and helps him clean his cut and put a dressing on it. John asks her if she heard the sound and she sits and tells him about the Duchess. She married an American and they had a son called Giorgio but her husband left her and ran off to United States with another woman leaving D’Orsino and their son behind. The son died mysteriously and Agnese mentions the suspicion that D’Orsino murdered him to get back at her husband. The Duchess never left the castle since that day until she died and local people say they hear the sound of child crying and that the castle is haunted.

No-one knows anything about the poor forgotten creature Giorgio chained up in the dungeon starving. I don’t know how long it has been since the Duchess died but since she never gave him much to eat hunger would never be far away. Clearly Giorgio did not die but has been imprisoned and physically abused by his mother for forty years but we don’t get to see the full effects of her abuse yet.

John and Rebecca decide to explore the castle a bit and Susan warns John to keep an eye on Rebecca. They pass through a nursery before they find Duchess D’Orsino’s bedroom. John finds an old photo album and while he looks through it Rebecca goes after a cat she finds stuck in a room. She follows it down to the dungeon where she falls and scrapes herself on the knee. Rebecca hears a moaning and she goes to the cell and calls out but Giorgio is too weak to respond. Rebecca goes back upstairs and Giorgio manages get his hands on the poor cat and drags it back into the cell.

When Rebecca gets upstairs Susan finds her and scolds her for wandering off which she blames on John for not watching but Rebecca protest that she has to allowed to learn how to cope with being blind without her mother fussing over her. She tries to tell Susan about hearing someone downstairs but Susan brushes it off as nothing but the strange noises the castle makes because she doesn’t think it’s possible.

In his cell Giorgio feeds on the cat and that gives him more energy. Seeing Rebecca at the grille of the cell door has given him a reason to get free. The manacles are joined by a chain fixed to the wall. He chews off his thumb and takes the manacle off his left hand which lets him free of the wall. He batters at the cell door and soon he breaks through and he’s free. Strangely no-one heard any of this. Giorgio limps up stairs on his twisted limbs until he comes to a mirror in a hallway. Disgusted by his hideous appearance he smashes the mirror and runs off.

The Reillys were in the kitchen having dinner when they hear the mirror break and rush out to investigate. They have no idea what caused the mirror to break but John suggests that old mirrors may break anytime due to the wood warping which sounds good enough for him but Rebecca suggests that it smashed because someone broke it. She’s frustrated that her parents don’t take her seriously.

That night while Rebecca is sleeping in her bed Giorgio creeps into her room. He pulls back her covers to look at her and he almost touches her hair. Suddenly Rebecca wakes up startled and Giorgio cowers away. She senses he is there asks who it is, getting more and more panicked by the lack of response. She screams and Giorgio panics, grabs a blanket from her bed and runs off. Susan and John rush in to find out what’s wrong. Rebecca tells them someone was in her room and Susan doesn’t believe her but John decides to investigate and goes into the hall where he hears the sound of the chains still manacled to Giorgio’s right wrist. He looks around a room full of covered furniture but doesn’t see Giorgio hiding plain sight as a piece of covered furniture.

John goes down the dungeon and has a look in the empty cell which should have been stinking from forty years of crap and piss and absolute proof that someone had been imprisoned in there, never mind the dead cat he fails to see. He looks around and finds the family crypt and the marker for Giorgio with a picture of him as a child and he looks exactly like John’s son JJ. This gets John very weepy. Giorgio has followed him down and is hiding and watching John mourning his son.

Next day John calls the police and the search the castle but don’t find anything which is strange when you remember that cell with dead cat, the heap of shit and stench of piss that shows this search was a very slap dash job. The police sergeant Forte (Luca Zingaretti) tells John that there is no way he can have the whole castle searched because the place is huge and he‘s not got the manpower. He doesn’t think there is anyone and doesn’t believe Rebecca. This gets John ranting a bit and that does nothing to convince the police to stay.

Rebecca is upset about being dismissed yet again and is tired since she didn’t get much sleep so she goes to bed. John wants to show Susan the picture of Giorgio but when they get down there the picture is gone but John swears it was identical to JJ. He talks about how he felt a presence like JJ was here with him. This leads to tears and hugs which John tries to take too far and then there are angry accusations and John storms off up to the roof where he thinks about jumping off and killing himself.

At the local bar John has gone back to drinking and sits all day getting incredibly drunk. In the evening the bar gets busier. A woman Sylvana () is working as a prostitute and she chats up John who orders her a drink but clumsily spills it. The barman tries to explain he’s had enough to drink and has to leave and Forte explains it to him in English and tells him to go back to his family, making it really obvious to Sylvana. Forte has an angry exchange in Italian with Sylvana who leaves with John.

John takes Sylvana back to the castle and down to the wine cellar and he opens up a bottle of wine. This is followed by quick sex up against a wall which is being watched by Giorgio who is getting very excited. Unbelievably John didn’t realise she was a prostitute until she asks for money. She gets her money and leaves while John passes out on the floor.

On her way out she walks through the nursery and Giorgio throws a blanket over head and grabs her. This leads to the scene that probably gave this film most trouble with the censors. Giorgio takes Sylvana to the cell where he tries to copy what John did but gets it very wrong. He puts the manacle on her wrist so she can’t get away. First we see that his penis has been cut off long ago so he can’t have sex and while John had gently nuzzled on her nipples Giorgio eats them off.

Next morning Forte comes to the door of the castle and wants to talk to John but Susan stays because she insists they don’t have secrets. Forte wants to know what happened to Sylvana since she didn’t go home after she went off with John. John insists that she left but Forte wants to take a look and John gets defensive since Forte had refused to search the castle the day before. The situation is very different and Forte asks if John has something to hide. He doesn’t let him and closes the door. Now John has to face Susan who very angry because he got drunk picked a woman and brought her back the castle and had sex with her while Susan and Rebecca were sleeping upstairs.

John goes to talk to Gianetti in a cafe who tells them that the police have no evidence so they can’t arrest him. Gianetti gets a phone call from Agnese who has found Sylvana’s handbag in one of the rooms. Gianetti offers to keep hold of the handbag until Sylvana shows up or the police find out what really happened to her. Of course he wants money for this and John calls him a bastard. Gianetti tells him the rest of his family history. His mother was the sister of Duchess D’Orsino and his father was her husband. They fled to America to get away from her but D’Orsino would never give him a divorce so his parents could never legally get married and with a smug grin on his face points out that means John is in fact the bastard.

At the castle Susan is getting Rebecca ready to leave. Rebecca doesn’t want to leave thinking that John is in trouble they should be with him but Susan has had enough of his drinking causing them pain.

Agnese has the handbag is taking it to Gianetti and she hears a scream from the dungeon and as she makes her way down there are more screams and cries. When she gets close she calls out and Giorgio takes his manacle off Sylvana’s hands and hides. Agnese come to the cell and finds Sylvana who is just barely alive. Agnes tries to take care of Sylvana but Giorgio comes up behind he her and smashes her head in with his chain.

Susan has the car packed and she’s about to leave with Rebecca. John comes running up from his meeting with Gianetti and tries to stop her leaving. He thinks the police are going to arrest him and if Susan leaves that will make him look guilty. Susan gets in the car and drives making a remark about John making himself a whipping boy. This remark reminds John of the whip and he suddenly realise what is going on and that Rebecca was right and he can prove it. He finds a tool room and picks up a spade. He goes down to the crypt and start smashing open Giorgio’s tomb

Outside before Susan gets to the bottom of the drive Forte arrives with Gianetti and a couple of cops to arrest John. Forte insists that Rebecca and Susan will have to stay in D’Orsino until they give their statements to the police. Inside there’s a loud noise of John smashing open the tomb. They go down to the dungeon with Susan and John has broken the tomb open. He pulls out the coffin and smashes it open and as he suspected it is empty except for rocks. He tries to convince them that Giorgio is not dead but has been kept alive by D’Orsino so she could torture him. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and John gets cuffed.

As they are about to leave with John Forte sees the bodies of Sylvana and Agnese in the cell but there’s no sign of Giorgio (apart from the stench of urine and pile of shit). Forte and Gianetti think John killed them but John tries to convince them of his innocence, pleading desperately with Susan as he gets dragged off to the police station. Forte leaves a couple of cops to watch Rebecca and Susan then he leaves with john and Gianetti.

Susan asks one of the cops if he can get them some water and he heads off to the kitchen. He gets the water but sees soot falling of the chimney over the stove. He goes to investigate and get dragged up into the chimney by Giorgio and killed.

At the police station John is being questioned by Forte who only wants John to tell him why he killed Sylvana and Agnese and doesn’t want to hear John’s story. John gets fed up with not being listened to and he gives an insensitive reply that cause Forte to flip out and attack him, forcing the other cop present to intervene and drag him off. Now he’s alone he decides to escape. He finds the truncheon Forte used on him. He hears forte coming back and when he comes in he smacks him over the head with the truncheon and knocks him then he climbs out a window in the corridor.

Susan asks the other cop about the water and he goes to look for the first cop. He sees a figure lying on the floor and when he approaches the figure it jumps at him and it’s Giorgio and he attacks him, biting his face and killing him. In Rebecca’s room Rebecca has a headache and Susan wants to give her painkillers but they have no water. She goes to see what’s happened to the cops and Giorgio reaches out from behind a door and grabs her head smacking it on the wall and knocking her out.

Giorgio goes into Rebecca’s room where she is getting undressed for bed. When he helps her take her blouse off Rebecca thinks he’s her mother but she rapidly learns that not true. He carries her off to his cell. Susan recovers and goes after him, stopping at the kitchen to pick up a knife.

In the cell puts the manacle and he put his manacle on her hands. He tries to communicate with her but he’s got no tongue and so can’t speak. He tries showing her the photograph of himself as a child but is frustrated to discover that Rebecca is blind. He realises he doesn’t have to hide his face and takes off the sheet he has covering his face and the sight of his abused face is revolting and a sign of how evil D’Orsino was. Giorgio paws at Rebecca and starts kissing her ear and neck while Rebecca screams. Susan comes into the cell and orders Giorgio to leave Rebecca alone. She offers herself in to Giorgio in her daughter’s place and unbuttons her shirt. Giorgio falls for it and comes toward her but when he’s in reach Susan sticks the knife in his back.

While Giorgio is doubled-up in pan and distracted Susan frees Rebecca from the manacle and leads her out upstairs. Giorgio isn’t very far behind them so Susan hides them in the large wardrobe in Duchess D’Orsino’s bedroom. When Giorgio comes into the room he knows the place and his memories are not happy. He finds the cat’ o’ nine tails and starts swing it round and once he gets the feel of it hi starts smashing things with it. He whips the wardrobe and wrecks it but he doesn’t discover Susan and Rebecca cowering at the bottom. He leaves to continue his search and they climb out of the wardrobe. Susan leads Rebecca down a corridor but Rebecca knocks over a vase and Giorgio spots them.

Susan leads Rebecca further up and they come to the roof and are trapped. Giorgio catches up and makes his way towards them. That’s when John arrive just in time and calls Giorgio’s name. They struggle and run about on the roof but Giorgio manages to beat John down. He starts towards Rebecca and Susan but his chain is dragging behind him and John grabs it and puts the other manacle on his wrist. He stands up and climbs on the battlement. John leaps off onto the courtyard below dragging Giorgio behind him. Giorgio is killed right away but John stays alive long enough to tell Rebecca and Susan that he loves them

Rating 7.5/10 

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Grave Encounters 2

DVD Review

Grave Encounters 2 DVD 001This sequel to Grave Encounters was something that had me intrigued because I quite liked the original film. I was glad to see them keep up the game of playing about with the found footage film format and give us a sequel that expands on the original but still manages to deliver its own share of creepy moments

This film starts with clips of internet reviewers and their different opinions of the first film which claimed to be the recordings of the last ever show of one of those ghost hunter shows that plague cable television called Grave Encounters. There’s a fair amount of negative review included in this section especially from the last reviewer, a film student called Alex Wright (Richard Harmon).

This last guy is our main character and he has very strong opinions about the state of modern horror and he takes a big swipe at the found footage genre, especially Paranormal Activity. Since all the characters in this film are film students they all have cameras and they record everything. This includes Alex’s room-mate Trevor (Dylan Playfair) and another student Jared (Howie Lai) who has a large high quality camera. Most of the students are enjoying themselves at a Halloween party but Alex is stuck in his room obsessing over his YouTube channel where had posted his review that we saw earlier. Trevor comes in to tell Alex that the woman he likes and who likes him Jennifer (Leanne Lapp) is at the party and asking about him.

Alex has received a video reply to his review from someone called Death Awaits. This has footage of Sean Rogerson the actor playing the main character Lance Preston from Grave Encounters, apparently in a hospital ward with stuff flying at him. This footage interests him enough to start looking in the background of the film and what he finds convinces him that Grave Encounters was not fiction but reality pretending to be fiction. He gets so distracted that he calls a halt to the film he is making for a re-write or more like a re-think. His friends are getting worried about him.

Alex manages to contact Sean Rogerson’s mother and she invites them over to talk to Scott but when he goes there with Trevor and Jared they get tossed out by the Mrs Rogerson’s nurse who explains that the woman is suffering from dementia. Alex thinks he’s reached a dead end when his mysterious contact Death Awaits sends him information about an advert being shot by the producer Jerry Hartfield in Hollywood. He heads off and tricks his way onto the set. He gets thrown off the set but later offers Alex an interview with no cameras. Alex sneaks a camera into the interview anyway and records Hartfield admitting that Grave Encounters was real and that he put it together and made it look like a film as a cover-up including adding dodgy CGI effects to make it look less realistic. It is a pretty amusing sequence and it shows a healthy awareness of the criticisms of the film by incorporating them in this story. I liked the bit where Hartfield introduces the Vicious Brothers are the directors of Grave Encounters but Hatfield says they are just his interns.

When Alex shows his video to his friends they have to admit there is something worth investigating. Alex tell them he wants the investigation to be his film project and he wants to go to Canada to the empty mental hospital where it was filmed and do his own investigation His contact Death Awaits also wants to meet with him there. He convinces his friends to along with him even though some such as Trevor are doubtful. Trevor’s girlfriend Tessa (Stephanie Bennett) is the only person I haven’t mentioned and she’s the fifth member of the team.

Once they get to the hospital they get chased away by an armed security guard so come back later at night and break into the hospital. At this point we get a re-run of the original film as they set up their cameras and try to contact the spirits. This time the spooky stuff starts happening pretty quickly and people start to die or disappear. There a bit more background into the hospital which is actively trying to keep them there.

I thought this film was pretty good and keeps up with the feel of the original film. The CGI was used a bit better, though some effects still looked a bit cheesy. It had some really creepy scenes. The cast were okay though most didn’t get that much development. If you enjoyed the first film you’ll probably like this one too.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Dark Mirror

DVD Review

Dark Mirror DVD 001This comes from the pile of cheap DVDs I bought at various places and I can’t even remember half the time what made me buy them. It is another mystery ghost story that ticks all the usual boxes and doesn’t really offer anything new to the genre but it does it adequately I suppose from I can recall since even after two days I can’t remember much more than the basics.

A couple Deborah (Lisa Vidal) and Jim (David Chisum) Martin move into new house with their young son Ian (Joshua Pelegrin). They moved house because Jim got a job as software engineer. Deborah is a photographer so she’s searching for new job. The house is a fairly normal suburban family house but the estate agent told them it was owned by a famous artist. The house is full of old mirrors and the windows are all special glass imported from Italy.

The creepy things start happening when Deborah takes a photograph of the bathroom mirror. Actually it really starts when she takes a picture of a hall mirror which is one of a pair set opposite each other so there are endless reflections receding into the distance. The flash from her camera comes out of several mirrors including the one in the bathroom.

There’s an old Japanese woman living in the house across the road who is always watching the house and next door is a young actress Tammy (Christine Lakin) who is between jobs at the moment but she’s very happy to talk to Deborah. She tells Deborah some essential plot background about her house and why the old Japanese woman constantly watches them. Apparently the artist who lived in the house disappeared without a trace along with his family and the Japanese woman was their housekeeper. She constantly watches the house to try to find out what happened.

Deborah starts noticing strange things about the mirrors and windows in the house but neither Jim nor Ian see anything. She talks about her thoughts with her mother Grace (Lupe Ontiveros) who says she will help her investigate the house’s history. It is Grace who mentions prisms being used to keep spirits out and Deborah realises that’s what different about the window and they are the key to what has been happening.

Deborah starts having visions and then people she has photographed start disappearing. She desperately tries to get some help but Jim thinks something is wrong with her and the film certainly sets that up as a possibility with Deborah’s blackouts and visions.

This film was okay but it really didn’t do anything special. None of the characters were very convincing and Jim in particular seemed to go from loving and supportive to obstinate and suspicious as the plot needed to leave Deborah emotionally isolated. He also has a large amount of plot convenient overtime that he has to work which adds to Deborah’s isolation at key points in the story. I know there were other characters like police investigating the disappearances but they all left so little impression on me. When it got the big reveal at the end it wasn’t much of a surprise. It’s like a fairly forgettable TV movie and most of the deaths happening off-screen so it isn’t very gory or horrific.

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: V/H/S

DVD Review

VHS dvd 001I do enjoy anthology films but I am getting a bit bored with found footage but this had some positive views so I was hoping for the best. I was a bit disappointed to find that this film was a bit more style over substance and that style is poorly lit badly filmed shots and confusing action scenes. he characterization is shallow and clichéd and the stories are very hit and miss.

The wraparound film is called Tape 56 and is the weakest of the stories but then that is not uncommon in normal anthology films. It is full of shaky cam and poor lighting which combine to make things very confusing and it’s difficult to even see who is doing what. It also has the poorest excuse for filming anything at all. There are four complete pricks that run about smashing stuff up and assaulting women and exposing their breasts. They do this for pitiful amount money from a porn site and one the pricks tells them about a job that could earn them much more money for just a single night’s work. They break into a large house to steal a single VHS cassette tape. The house is empty except for a room with a wall full of TV sets and video players and the body of an old man sitting in an armchair. As they hunt for the tape the different arseholes come into this room to play a VHS tape and that gives us the other five stories.

Amateur Night – This story also has some really obnoxious main characters, three guys who are going out to get drunk, pick up women for sex and film it with a secret camera hidden in a pair of spectacles. This makes it a bit easier to see what’s happening and the lighting is better. They make their small nerdy friend Clint (Drew Sawyer) wear the glasses and go out drinking until Patrick (Joe Sykes) gets so drunk and rowdy that they get tossed out and go back to motel room with two women they picked up. Lisa (Jas Sams) is pretty normal and has partied with Patrick all night. The other woman Lily (Hannah Fierman) is a very strange woman with wide eyes that never seem to blink and she was the one who picked up Clint. Back in the room the third arsehole Shane (Mike Donlan) makes out with Lisa while Patrick rolls about drunk on the couch. Clint sits on the second bed with Lily and she states right into him telling him she likes him. Without giving away anything else all I can say is that things turn out very badly for the three arseholes. This story is okay and I liked the ending. The guys are really are convincing at playing dicks and it really does have the feel of guys filming their sleazy night out. It has good use of the found footage format to give the story credibility.

Second Honeymoon – A married couple are travelling across the country together and the wife Stephanie (Sophia Takal) is filming the highlights of their trip across the United States. From their chat they seem like a normal couple and apart from the husband Sam (Joe Swanberg) trying to get Stephanie to pose topless for the video in their motel room there isn’t a lot of tension between them. Someone knocks on the door and Sam opens and speaks to whoever it is bit we don’t see them. Sam seems confused when he comes away from the door. Apparently a young woman wanted them to give her a lift the next morning when they are leaving and this incident seems upset them so much that Stephanie wants to call the police which seems to be an over-reaction. I don’t even know why Stephanie is still filming right up until they go to bed and Sam turns out the light. The camera comes back on but Stephanie and Sam are still sleeping in their beds and it is operated by an intruder to pulls back Stephanie’s covers to perve over her arse with a knife. The intruder then goes steals money from Sam’s wallet before going into the toilet and rinsing Sam’s toothbrush in the toilet bowl. We catch of a figure wearing one of those creepy translucent masks. Next day Sam and Stephanie carry on with no knowledge of the intruder and when Sam discovers the missing money he blames it on Stephanie despite her claiming innocence. This segment has very abrupt and unexpected ending but it was a bit flat and seemed just like some things that happened. The scene with intruder was a bit unsettling. The shaky cam found footage wasn’t too bad here

Tuesday 17th – Four young people drive up to a remote lake to hang out. This is the idea of Wendy (Norma C. Quinones) who said she used to come here before. The camera is being mainly carried by Joey (Drew Moerlein) and the others are Spider (Jason Yachanin) and Samantha (Jason Yachanin). This is filmed in daylight and it’s normally clear what’s going on. The video keeps getting flashes of interference showing murdered bodies lying in different places but they see nothing there at the time. Joey starts getting creeped out by Wendy who tells them a story of a group of people who got killed at the lake then implies it was a joke to scare them. But there really is something out there and it wants to kill them. This segment was okay in parts and there was a bit of a twist to old story of the serial killer hunting college kids in the woods and the flash of male nudity didn’t hurt.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger – This segment was probably the strongest because it kept it relatively simple – a webcam conversation between a young woman Emily (Helen Rogers) and her boyfriend James (Daniel Kaufman) who is a medical student studying at a college across the country. Emily has recently moved to a new apartment and has been hearing strange noises at night which make her think the place is haunted. She contacts James in the middle of the night and he sees some child-sized figure appear to run across the corner of the screen but the next day he‘s ready to explain it away as some sort of reflection. James is very worried that Emily is getting obsessive about things like the ghost and also a lump she can feel under the skin of her arm. Emily has a history of such behaviour and James’s fears seem to be confirmed which she starts digging into the flesh of her arm with a knife. This was the best of the segment with some the best characterization and the ending was silly. It has the most natural excuse for the video being made and there isn’t too much shaky cam

10/31/1998 – this segment is another one where I really can’t remember the character names. Four college age guys are going to Halloween party and they are in costume. The video camera in this case is carried by the guy in a bear suit and there another guy in a soldier costume, one dressed as a pirate and I can’t even remember what the fourth guy was wearing. They are looking for the address of the party and there is a mix-up so it is probable that they have gone to the wrong address. No-one answers the door so they look for another way in. They can’t see anyone inside but all the lights are on. Inside they hear some really creepy sounds coming from upstairs and they are startled by creepy things happening so they reckon it’s a haunted house set up and carry on upstairs. It’s not hard to guess that this is not a cheesy Halloween party but very real. This segment was filmed with a lot of shaky cam and that is not good but the story was okay with decent special effects and another very abrupt ending.

Overall the film was okay but it is not the fantastic film that I’d heard about. It really suffers from the flaws of its style with poor film quality and lighting and action scenes that were often confusing. A lot of the male characters were unlike-able and misogynistic and in most segments their deaths were caused by female characters which might be some sort of statement. While it has some female nudity it also features male nudity but there is very little about this film that could seem erotic. I also have to say I’m puzzled by use of the VHS concept in this film since in every segment the natural format for the video is digital but then searching for a hard-drive or a memory stick is probably not as open to scenes of pointless confusing crawling about in a dark cellar for looking for VHS cassettes. Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Looper

Bluray Review

Looper bluray 001Time travel has been a science fiction staple for as long as the genre has existed and it feeds into the enjoyment of contemplating alternative realities and thinking about fate and free choice. This film really uses quite a few of the familiar time travel tropes but manages to use them to tell a pretty smart story which holds together until you start thinking about it and out come the straws and the diagrams.

This is set sometime in the near future in a world that is suckier and more corrupt than today and poverty and homelessness happens at third world levels in all the major cities. Loopers are hitmen for Abe (Jeff Daniels), a man from the future who works for powerful gangsters from the thirty years into the future after time travel has been invented and instantly outlawed. In the future some sort of advanced technology tagging has made disposing of bodies very difficult so they send the people they want rid of back in time with their hands tied and a bag over their head so that a Looper can kill them and dispose of the body. The plot needs this to be true so we’ll just have to accept it. We have this all explained to us by the main character Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) in a voiceover. The film doesn’t just tell us but shows us Joe gunning down several anonymous victims and trading in the silver bars placed on the bodies in the future as payment.

Joe is not a nice a guy. He and the other Loopers are self-centred short sighted dumb-asses who spend their money on drink, drugs, women and flashy cars. Joe also talks about how the Loopers are kept under contract until the day that the man they kill is their own future selves and they are released from their contracts to enjoy the several bars of gold that was sent back with their future selves knowing that in 30 years they will be killed by their younger selves.

If they fail to kill their future selves that is very bad and we get to see what happens when fellow Looper, and the closest Joe has to a friend, Seth (Paul Dano) turns up at Joe’s apartment wanting help hiding from Abe’s Gat men after he failed to kill his own future self. The Gat men are Abe’s enforcers who armed with Gatling guns while the Loopers use guns called blunderbusses because of their short range. This whole episode with Seth sets up how serious it will be when Joe meets future Joe and there’s an interesting use of Seth to catch future Seth which sets up the film’s ending.

Joe is out in the country waiting for his next hit and he’s still thinking about Seth. The time for the hit comes and goes and when the hit arrives several minutes late his face is not covered and he’s not tied up. Joe looks in his eyes and recognises it’s Future Joe (Bruce Willis). He also has bars of gold that he uses to deflect the shot from Joe then Future Joe knocks out him out by hitting him with a bar of gold and a punching him in the face. Future Joe escapes and Joe finds himself on the run from Abe’s Gat men.

We get to see a flashback of Future Joe’s life after he had his loop closed and learn that he’s got a plan to bring down some future evil villain called the Rainmaker and save the only woman he ever loved no matter the cost.

Joe arranges to meet Future Joe at a diner next to his kill site out in the country. He wants to get his life back and wants to kill Future Joe to do it. Future Joe depends on Joe’s continued existence yet Joe points out that the best way to save the woman he loves would be to kill Joe right now so he’d never meet her and put her in danger. The script hints heavily in the dialogue that the time travel plot shouldn’t get poked too much or its logic will unravel. Before they get down to deciding who should kill who Abe’s Gat men arrive and Future Joe has to run. Joe manages to tear a bit off Future’s Joe’s map. This full map has three target circled on it and one of these target is on the bit Joe has.

Joe knows Future Joe will be going there and so he decides to go there to wait for him. It turns out to be a farm occupied by a single mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Because of the widespread poverty there are many vagrants and some are desperate enough that Sara keeps a load shotgun handy. Thinking Joe is one of them she shoots him wounding him in the arm. She realises he’s not a vagrant but the blunderbuss gives away that he‘s not someone to be trusted either. She drags him onto her porch where she can keep an eye on him.

Joe starts getting withdrawal from the drugs he constantly dripped into his eyes back in the city and Sara leaves him to recover, warning Cid to keep away from him. As time passes of course Sara’s mistrust softens and Joe starts to care about people other than himself, which gives him something to fight for against both Abe’s men and his future self.

I really did like this film and it does live up to the hype. Everything kind of holds together enough so I could ignore the paradoxes to enjoy later. It is totally believable that Joseph Gordon Levitt is a younger version of Bruce Willis but that is because two actors matched up their performances so well and not really because of the make-up job on Levitt. I had a little giggle at the fleeting glimpse of the intermediate stages of hair loss, especially the bit where Willis had a floppy comb-over

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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